Today Stuart saw two specialists at Dana Farber Cancer Center who believe, after reviewing all the scans and reports that were done at and sent from St Elizabeth's hospital he does in fact have lung cancer. They are still waiting to receive the actual tissue samples from the biopsies performed at St. E's and the slides so they can evaluate and run their own pathology.
Since the cancer cells were found in the fluid surrounding the lungs and in a lymph node outside the lung, it is by definition, a stage IV lung cancer.
However, his case is quite puzzling as they still do not see a primary mass anywhere. Typically stage IV lung cancer patients are in much poorer conditions when they present. So we were told not to read about the prognosis for stage IV lung cancer because Stuart is labelled that only because if where the cells were found rather than his current health status.
The tissue which should be arriving at DF will be checked for "genetic mutations". Four specific mutations are known. Something caused a change in the cells in Stuart's body and these mutated cells "drive" the cancer cells.
They have specific treatment for each of the possible 4 mutations. They can "target" the so-called "driver" cells and therefore the proliferation of the cancer. So we are hoping that his tissue shows positive for one of the genetic mutations.
If it is a genetic mutation, treatment is with pills. If it is not, treatment is done with chemo through infusions. We were told that chemo nowadays is much different than it used to be...and the side effects are lessened with vitamin B12 and folic acid. He was given a B12 shot today, so that in the event infusion therapy is the course of action, he will be all set to start.
He is going in tomorrow for a brain MRI, standard procedure. Thursday he will have a PET scan to see where the cancer cells are and look for the primary tumor. I believe if chemo is started it will begin the end of next week. An appointment has been set up, just to make sure he has an appointment if one is needed.
The doctors and staff at DF are very human and compassionate. They are all so intelligent and just exude a confidence that puts you at ease.
Thanks for checking in on us. I will keep you updated the best I can. We appreciate and will continue to appreciate your support, encouragement love and understanding as we begin on this new journey.
Please don't feel you can't reach out to us...especially to Stuart. You can always send a text, an email...or a phone call. If we aren't up to responding we won't and know you'll understand. But hearing from our friends and loved ones helps.
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